In what ways has your work changed your thinking about students’ transitions or your teaching?
Each member of the cohort developed their own intervention as it seemed to best fit their particular circumstances. For instance, Bradley’s students were working with texts that were more written for high school and college English and writing teachers. He asked them to simply restate the content of the material. Katie’s students worked with texts that were written for a more general readership, though that didn’t make them necessarily more accessible as few high school students have practice with book-length nonfiction texts. Katie’s students were asked to provide more in the way of response and commentary on their interaction with the text.
Bradley’s primary challenge was integrating the reading and annotation work into instruction in a consistent manner while not hindering progress in lesson plans and assignments. Certain activities had to be either truncated or dropped in order to implement the annotations efforts.
Bradley Bleck’s Changed Thinking
Bradley’s primary concerns is whether students will embrace the newly introduced approach to annotating beyond being required to do so in his classroom. He has observed students who have completed his class reverting to or engaging in behaviors he taught against, such as highlighting large chunks of text as opposed to making restatement annotations. In short, is a 10-week college quarter enough time to ingrain in students the value of annotating as practiced. Similarly, when teaching the second of the two course sequence, can the practice be embedded in that class in a way that would work with students who did not have the experience in the first course, and, at the same time, can a functional way be found that will enable students who did take the first course to build on what they have learned.
Katie O’Connor’s Changed Thinking
Three years ago when I started this journey of collaboration, I was very traditional in my approach to teaching thinking my students would get all they needed by the end of the year, but I didn’t truly believe it was best for students because I was still using the traditional curriculum that has been used in Senior English classes for decades. Now that I’m teaching the Bridge to College curriculum focusing on nonfiction modern topics that engage students, I feel as I’m no longer fighting the “why is this important” battle any longer and am seeing gains like never before. Students understand they need to be global citizens, and the new curriculum helps them analyze and evaluate their role in this global society. Combining the curriculum with the collaboration with the college instructors, my instruction has also become much more transparent to students. We often talk about what is expected of them as they move into postsecondary institutions and realize the more they learn this year, the more success they will experience next year. In addition, they seldom ask “why is this important?” any longer because they understand the skills they are building will be extremely beneficial as they, not only transition to college, but also into adulthood writing as writing is a lifelong skill on which they will depend regularly.
Working with my College Spark cohort and my Bridge to College cohort has been invaluable because I can say I do know what will be expected of students when they transition to college writing courses, and I know I’ve done the absolute best job I can to prepare them the next phase in their journey.
My final thought of wonderment is that of “what happens next”? I hate to see so much work just end and no follow up provided because there is so much more that could be done to help students transition more successfully.
Lesley Hilt’s Changed Thinking
- I have really appreciated the conversations, collaboration and insights share by my colleagues in the College Spark group. I have adapted some of their strategies and suggestions to further help my students understand complex texts.
- I think the most meaningful insight I have gained is that even at the college level, students often do not transfer strategies and skills from one class to the next. We see this often at the secondary level, and I wonder how to increase the level of transference.
- I wonder how I can make annotation meaningful for all students so that they see it as a way to interact meaningfully with the text.
- I wonder if there are some better strategies for helping students find the claim in a more complex text. This is the one area where I feel I still need to do more research and work. Even my advanced seniors seem to struggle with identifying an implied or less obvious claim.